For my Digital Video & Audio Design course, it is very difficult to get students to want to write. As a technology elective course, the students want to use technology without applying any of the knowledge they acquire from their core content classes. Last year I had an idea to provide students writing opportunities by creating student blogs. My thought was to have students write a blog post once a week reflecting on what they have learned during the week. Students would also be able to provide examples of their work on the blog and add anything that has sparked their interest. The class in turn would comment on other student posts providing opportunities for collaboration and feedback. This would drive the social aspect and communication that seems to be one of the attractors for students to technology. Basically each student gets a voice through their blog.
Writing is an area that is always in a need of continual improvement. There is a great need for students to be able to communicate and put their thoughts on paper. Any opportunity to provide authentic writing prompts or allow students to freely express their thoughts in a semi-formal manner can only support them in their core classes. This is the old “bait-and-switch” illusion to get students writing in a non-pressure environment. Make the writing fun and engaging, again allowing them to express their learning.
Blogging Tree of Knowledge
Constructivism is one of the latest trends of learning strategies to get students to build their own knowledge. The student blog would force students to think about what knowledge they have acquired or the tasks performed during the week. All too often I hear students say at the end of the term, “We never learned that or you never taught us that.” A student blog would be a resource for students to review when they have a question or needing to reinforce what knowledge they have acquired. This directs the learning to be student-centered as they have to recount and reconstruct what they have done and learned in class. If the entire class can read and comment on what they have written, then students will be more motivated to put insightful posts in their weekly blog. Again the “bait-and-switch” tactic, students don’t realize they are constructing or confirming their knowledge of the subject through their blog posts. Just as the blog tree image displays one blog can flourish with communication, students will have the opportunity to spread the seeds of knowledge through insightful blog writings.
Conversion of knowledge with technology
The affordances of using a blog to get students to write goes back to the “bait-and-switch” concept. Students don’t connect learning with work when the learning activity is fun and engaging. Allowing students to take control of their learning and have activities student-centered are properties of the constructivist learning method. The blog is a technology tool to encourage student self-analysis to connect past learning to deepen with knowledge construction.
Blog technology used in the learning environment will allow students to develop higher-order thinking skills when needed to evaluate the knowledge acquired. The learning environment is authentic, allowing students to build upon their experiences and communicate effectively for constructive critiques through comments. One not so obvious affordance is the opportunity for students to participate in blog postings who might not be so quick to speak up in class.
Obstacles with technology can be challenging for educators. Two major obstacles would be student privacy and monitoring of authentic comments and feedback. Due to the privacy issues, implementing students blogs would need to be researched thoroughly to insure student safety with the Wild Wild West…I mean the World Wide Web. A possible solution would be to only allow access to the blogs through a school/district computer or through a web portal. Our district already allows for students to publish websites accessible only through a district computer. Due to student privacy concerns, overcoming these obstacles will need to be explored and thoroughly researched before putting students in potential harms way.